Chronic neck pain: a comparison of acupuncture treatment and physiotherapy

Br J Rheumatol. 1998 Oct;37(10):1118-22. doi: 10.1093/rheumatology/37.10.1118.


Objective: To evaluate the effectiveness of acupuncture, as compared with physiotherapy, in the management of chronic neck pain.

Design: Seventy adult patients with non-inflammatory neck pain of >6 weeks duration and with no abnormal neurology were randomly assigned to receive either of the treatments. Thirty-five patients were included in each group.

Outcome measures: Pain by visual analogue scale and neck pain questionnaire, improvement in range of movement of neck relative to baseline, and well-being (general health questionnaire). Measurements were recorded at the start of treatment, at 6 weeks and at 6 months.

Results: Both treatment groups improved in all criteria. Acupuncture was slightly more effective in patients who had higher baseline pain scores.

Conclusions: Both acupuncture and physiotherapy are effective forms of treatment. Since an untreated control group was not part of the study design, the magnitude of this improvement cannot be quantified.

Publication types

  • Clinical Trial
  • Comparative Study
  • Randomized Controlled Trial

MeSH terms

  • Acupuncture Therapy*
  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Chronic Disease
  • Female
  • Health Status
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Neck Pain / therapy*
  • Pain Measurement
  • Physical Therapy Modalities*
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • Treatment Outcome